The primary focus of Mary Ann Mears's work from the beginning of her career has been creating sculpture for specific sites. The impetus for her work has emerged from an intense conviction about the powerful role of art in a variety of social/cultural settings, public and private. She enjoys the challenge of responding to the physical and spatial qualities of new sites, whether architectural -- interior or exterior -- or natural. Envisioning the potential for a work of art to enhance the experience of encountering and moving through a site is critical to her process. The communities, institutions and individuals who inhabit and use sites bring their own unique needs and desires, which deepen the complexity of finding the optimum approach while expressing the spirit of the particular place.
Over many years she has worked with a wide variety of sites; some of her works have been on a very large scale while others have been more intimate, some have been suspended or wall-hung, others free-standing. Some have been conceived as single focal objects, others create environments or series of encounters. She works primarily in metals such as aluminum and stainless steel and may use many colors, a single color or simply the finish of the material itself.
In addition to her commissioned works, she does two-dimensional works on paper including mixed media pieces, prints and drawings.
In all of her work, she draws inspiration from many sources. Her work may reference multiple images and ideas, creating meaning and metaphor from their intersections. The physicality of sculpture and its connection to primal human physical experience is a critical factor in her work. She is intrigued by the mind/body/esthetic interface.
Each site's unique qualities whether physical or human are the source of new ideas that meld with my memories, reflections and imaginings and lead me in new directions. My best work surprises me and paradoxically has an inevitability at the same time.
Mary Ann E. Mears grew up in Chatham New Jersey. She graduated with honors and with distinction from Mount Holyoke College where she studied sculpture with Leonard DeLonga within the newly created studio art major program. She received her Master's Degree from New York University. She moved to Baltimore where she taught at the Community College of Baltimore and Goucher College. As she became more involved with commissioned work for public sites, she left teaching to focus on her work as a sculptor and to expand her involvement with public policy in the arts.
She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate in the Fine Arts from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). In 2009, she received the Distinguished Service to the Arts Award from the National Governors Association. She is one of the Daily Record's 2010 Maryland's Top 100 Women.
As an artist who believes in the important place of art in daily life, Ms Mears has been committed to nurturing the arts and arts education in her work in the non-profit sector as a volunteer arts advocate. She believes that it is critically important for each person to have access to meaningful and high quality arts experiences throughout their lives. The issue of equity of access for children is particularly compelling for her.
Her achievements include being a founder of Maryland Art Place and helping to craft and successfully lobby for Maryland's Public Art Bill. She is a trustee of Maryland Citizens for the Arts. Mary Ann is the founder of Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) Alliance. She serves on the Maryland State Department of Education's Fine Arts Education Advisory Panel.
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